Because setting ourselves up for success is important
New Year’s is often a time we think about setting goals. We want to lose weight, get organized, or finally learn how to play the guitar. But these lofty goals are not so great if they’re so far out of reach that they’re impossible to meet. (That’s the trap I always fall into! Don’t be like me!) That just leaves us feeling sad and bad about ourselves. And that’s especially true when it comes to budgeting. The good news is there are things we can do to set ourselves up for success.
So when you sit down to start drafting your budgeting resolutions for the coming year, keep these four things in mind.
1. Be flexible
This might possibly be the most important piece of advice of all! The thing about getting on a budget, or starting any kind of financial resolution, is that it inevitably will not go as planned. And that’s OK! Repeat after me, it’s OK!
In fact, adapting when things get off track is part of the learning process. If you find that the budget you created is too tight, figure out where you can loosen things up. Or if you find that you completely forgot to budget for a bill you have on autopay, you can always tweak your budget the next month.
One of the most valuable things I’ve learned about budgeting is that it doesn’t have to be as rigid as we often think it should be. It’s perfectly fine to make tweaks along the way so that your budget works better FOR YOU in the long run.
2. Create a budget that makes sense
When I was new to budgeting, I was lucky enough to have a friend share her budget template with me. Had it not been for her, I would have had no idea where to start. What kinds of things do people even budget for?? I had no clue. If that sounds like you too, try one of these sample budgets as a jumping off point.
Another great way to build a budget is to start by looking at what you’ve spent on in the past. Go to your bank’s or credit card’s website and pull up the last month of your transaction information. Take a look at what things you bought and what payments you made to get an idea of how much you typically spend and where. That will give you a starting place for your new budget. Then as you try that budget out in the New Year, you can see what works and doesn’t work for you, and make adjustments along the way.
3. Take an online budget course!
If you’re totally new to budgeting and ready to make a budget that works for you (and that you can actually stick with), join Goodbudget 101: Budget Bootcamp. It’s a 30-day course that walks you through creating a budget from scratch, all the way to learning how to adjust your budget as life changes. It’s totally free, and just might be the resolution you’ve been looking for.
4. Pick the right software
With an abundance of budgeting apps to download and web services that you can subscribe to, picking the right software to fit your needs can seem overwhelming. But knowing what you want in a software will automatically help narrow the field so you can pinpoint the one that will work best for you.
So start with writing down a list of your requirements. Do you want a web-based service, or do you prefer an app? Or both? Do you plan to share the budget with someone else? Do you plan to use your budget to pay off debt? If so, you’ll need great budget software that will allow you to do that. Having a clear idea of what you need will help in the research phase.
Another thing to keep in mind is your budget. Not all, but many quality services require a monthly or annual fee. So think of what you’re willing to spend each month and find programs that fit that.
Psst! We happen to know of a pretty great budget software. Give Goodbudget a try!